After a long time of pretty bare bones frugality, I am going to try to honestly document an experiment in what some might consider a highly extravagant luxury: comprehensive, ongoing chiropractic care. At the same time, this will be a journey in discovering how my new Health Savings Account (HSA) “defined contribution” type insurance plan works. I have not figured out yet whether the plan officially considers chiropractic care to be part of its covered preventative services. So here we go.
Some background: I just feel lousy lately. I have had a series of cumulative pains and troubles that have restricted and impaired my life lately. First, starting a few months ago I started feeling all-over achy and weak when it would come time to go running; I would cut off jogs at 3 miles rather than hit 4 or 5 like I used to. Then about a month ago, I started having pretty intense neck pain and stiffness, which has resulted in compromised driving posture and sub-par soccer performance. More recently, I find I have no extra energy at the end of the work day and must immediately take a small catnap before doing anything else. I don’t even make it out to run on most days. Obviously this is getting worse and has to stop.
The other effect is that the chronic pain and fatigue have made me cranky at work and distracted with friends. These are also deal-breaking behaviors. I can’t afford to be cranky at work – being cheerful is one of my best workplace qualities, and a real differentiator at an engineering firm!
And I already tried to address my problems in simpler ways. I offloaded some of my tasks at work to de-stress, got more sleep, drank more water, and even went for a back massage. But none of this has helped.
So I had my first visit at a holistic health-type chiropractor today. The consultation cost $45. The doctor noted that health insurance companies do not usually cover the consultation. So I guess $45 isn’t so bad for the full price of an up-front consult?
Apparently my back is in such poor shape that the doctor offered an adjustment today, in advance of reviewing my file with me (which happens at the 2nd visit and is usually the pre-cursor to chiropractic adjustment). So I happily went for the adjustment, which cost $45 as well. Huh? That seemed a little extreme. But the level of pain I feel in my body lately cannot be over-emphasized. I was glad just for the opportunity.
So I dropped $90 today, and have not yet looked into whether my insurance covers this. Since I have an HSA, it is basically some cash provided by my company along with some more cash I contributed, which can be accessed with an HSA credit card to pay medical bills. I just used my personal debit card today. I am not sure this service is covered anyway, though in theory you should use the money in the account for services (whether covered or not) to help get you to the deductible amount.
Going forward, I am not sure how much these visits cost when covered by insurance – whether $45 is reduced to some other value. But worst case scenario is that it costs the full $45 for every visit, and the doctor’s office suggests that I return once a week for the next few months. That would come to $180/month. It’s almost as much as I spend on food per month, but I suppose I would pay that for a few months in exchange for pain relief.
While this may be a “rip-off” I think results would be worth it. What do you think? What is the absence of pain worth?